Reap, James Burnett
In Loving Memory,
James Burnett (Jim) Reap, of White Plains, NY, loving husband, father, grandfather, and dedicated public servant, former Rear Admiral in the US Navy
, Commander of the NY State Naval Militia, Chief Judge for the City of White Plains, and Federal Administrative Law Judge for the Court of Hearings and Appeals, passed away Sunday, June 8th in his home of more than 40 years in White Plains. He was 83.
He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Nancy Leigh; sons, JJ and Michael Reap; daughter, Jessica Leigh; daughter-in-law, Anne Reap; grandchildren, Michael Hastings Reap II and Alexandra Leigh Reap, and a sister, Elaine Reap Bond.
The son of Jessie Reap and James S. Reap, Jim was born in Mount Vernon in 1930 and grew up in Yonkers in the home his grandfather built. He attended Roosevelt High School and loved sports. As a teenager, he was active in the YMCA and caddied at nearby Dunwoody Golf Course, where he cultivated a lifelong passion for golf. He joined the Boy Scouts and rose to become an Eagle Scout.
Jim was awarded a scholarship to attend Wesleyan University in Connecticut, where he excelled academically and athletically, graduating cum laude with a BA in Government and History in 1952. Affectionately nicknamed Harpo because of his curly blond hair, he was an All New England goalie (receiving honorable mention All-American accolades), won nine varsity letters in soccer, basketball and golf and was the captain of Wesleyan's golf team. While at Wesleyan, he became a prominent member of Chi Psi national fraternity. Jim was also tapped to join the secret honor society Skull and Serpent, where he was elected president.
After graduating from Wesleyan in 1952, Jim was commissioned as an Ensign in the US Navy. While stationed in Norfolk, VA as a communications specialist during the initial stage of the Korean War
, he met the future love of his life on a blind date, Nancy Leigh. He also played semi-pro basketball while stationed in Virginia, and shared stories with his family of playing against folks like Lefty Dreisell and other individuals who became college coaches or entered into the professional basketball world. Following in the footsteps of his father, a court clerk, Jim attended Harvard Law School and joined the Navy Reserve. Jim excelled at Harvard Law School, and began developing a love for public service, working pro bono for Boston Legal Aid while continuing to meet his obligations as an officer in the Navy Reserve. Harvard was not all work, however, as Jim found time to captain both the intra mural championship basketball and touch football teams.
After Jim graduated from Harvard Law School in 1957 and passed the NY State Bar, he and Nancy married and began their life as a couple in White Plains. Jim joined the law firm of Kent Hazard, Jaeger, Freeman and Greer, where he would rise to partner, and practiced civil law, often appearing in White Plains City Court, County Court and NY State Supreme Court. In 1959, Jim was appointed to the Judge Advocate General Corps of the Navy as trial and defense counsels and served both in the JAG and surface warfare. He was admitted to practice law before all NY State courts, the US Supreme Court, US District Court for Southern and Eastern Districts, US Court of Claims, US Court of International Trade, US Court of Military Appeals, and the IRS. In short order, Jim was tapped as an assistant city judge for the City of White Plains, NY. In 1978, he hung out his own shingle and formed Campbell, Hyman and Reap in New Rochelle. In 1980, he left private practice and became the Chief Judge for White Plains, where he served 12 years with seven unanimous bipartisan appointments by the Common Council. Jim was active in the junior chamber of commerce and the University Club. He also served as a member of the Pace University Law School Community Advisory Board, and the Legal Aid Society of Westchester County. He served on the Westchester County Board of Legislators, was a member of the Westchester County Executive's Corrections Committee, NY State Association of City Court Judges, National Trial Court Judges Association, American Judges Foundation, Westchester Legal Aid Society, the American Judicature Society, and the Westchester Bar Association. A lifelong golfer, Jim served as a chairman of the Westchester Bar Membership and Admissions Committee and won the Bar Association Golf Championship silver tray 13 times. In tandem with his burgeoning legal life, Jim continued to progress at a rapid rate in the Naval Reserve, holding positions of increasing responsibility. When Jim retired as Rear Admiral (Surface Warfare) from the US Naval Reserve, among the 15 military medals he earned were two Presidential Legions of Merit for his work as Commander of the Military Sealift Command, Atlantic, where he was in charge of 1,000 active duty and reserve navy personnel and the provisioning of NATO forces for the entire US Atlantic Sea Board. He also was a recipient of the presidential Meritorious Service medal. He was especially proud of his Legion of Merit Award, where he was recognized as "an extraordinary dynamic leader who, through his tenacity and superior management, significantly improved the readiness levels of the Naval Reserve Forces of Commander Military Sealift Command, Atlantic...inspiring devotion to duty in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Services."
Jim served on 8 different ships and commanded the NY State Naval Militia under three different governors as the highest ranking Naval officer in the State. Other commands included Naval Activities United Kingdom; Strike Fleet Atlantic; the Military Sealift Command Atlantic, and the Naval Reserve Readiness Command Region II. On a personal note, Jim was an avid reader, and enjoyed reading everything from spy and mystery novels to Dickens. He was also a member of a local book club with his wife Nancy, the "Fezziwigs," which met at Manhattanville college.
While much can be said about Jim's public service to the country and community, he will be most cherished for the time he spent with his family. He treasured his wife Nancy, continuing his life-long romance with her, and they traveled throughout the world, sharing an ongoing thirst to explore and experience many different cultures. He loved going with family to Yankee and NY Giant games. He shared his love for scouting with son, JJ, also a boyscout. He enjoyed flying kites on the beach with his grandchildren on vacations in Nantucket and Maine, taught his son Michael and grandchild Michael II to play golf, encouraged his children and grandchildren in their endeavors, and taught each of them that if they set their goals high, worked hard and never gave up, doors would open and all things were possible. His life was an example of dedication to country and community service as well as love of family. Throughout this life, notwithstanding his many accomplishments, he was very humble, often crediting others and shunning the spot light. He will be greatly missed.
A Funeral Service open to the public will be held this Friday, June 13, 2014, at 12 Noon at the White Plains Presbyterian Church, 39 North Broadway, White Plains, NY, and a military burial service also open to the public will be held at 2PM at Greenwood Union Cemetery, 215 North St., Rye, NY. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Jim Reap's name to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.